Baran  ·  Afghanistan


Diary of An Afghan Woman

Baran Avatar with text

July 25, 2022

If you ask me, what does immigration look like? I want to tell you in short.

Immigration is being released from a safe embrace into a turbulent sea. You don’t know if your decisions are right or wrong. You want to leap into the dark, but the waves of problems bend your back. You have to try so hard to learn how to swim in this infinite sea.

You want to stop and go back, but you are already abandoned.

Migration is the only word that contains a world of sadness, problems and distance. It is imperative to be patient in this. You must continue with all your strength. Migration means to start all over again. Like a child who knows nothing.

Tears have flowed in my eyes by writing these words. But I believe that after every difficulty, there is ease. After the night, there is light. We are currently in the dark part of our lives, but I know it will light up again. Spring comes again and we will be fresh like a spring flower.

Baran and baby

July 6, 2022

We are slowly getting used to the environment. Hasti is happy in her school, she has kind teachers and classmates. But in my opinion, her school is not very high level. And also it is so far from our house. We are waiting for her to make some progress in her language skills and then we will get admission in a better school. My job is the private secretary of the boss. I am satisfied with my work, I have learned many things so far and my colleagues help me in every field. My husband works in the administration department. He doesn’t understand the language, so it’s a bit difficult for him, but we all help him. This city is good for us because we are busy with something, but it is difficult for my mother because she has to stay at home all day and take care of my baby. She cannot go out for walks because the environment here is not suitable. She gets bored at home and sometimes complains that she is tired. I understand it. I hope God will do a miracle so that we can go to a place where I can see my mother happy and where she can see my sisters.

June 2, 2022

It has been three days since we moved here. Yesterday was our first day at work.

The head of the hospital instructed us on what to do. It seems a little difficult because we can not speak the language but we are trying to learn.

We will talk about Hasti’s school tomorrow and then we are going to go to the school tomorrow.

The environment here is completely different from where we lived before. There we could freely leave the house even at night, but here are religious people. Rarely can a woman be seen outside. When we leave the house, all the men stare at us and this scares us. We can not leave the house alone. Even my husband, who is a man, is given very strange and close looks at him. I do not know why this is so.

The weather here is much better, though. We do not feel very hot even when the electricity goes out.

April 27, 2022

Yesterday we went to see the boss of the Eye Hospital. He had told me that we should see and talk face to face. His hospital is in the city of [redacted], which is two and a half hours away from where we are. It was a long way. We finally arrived and met.

Mr. [redacted] said that we should come to this city and start our work here. He said they are looking for a house for us. He told me that he would send pictures to us.

Now we are waiting what he will say.

How do I feel about moving?

At first, when I realized that it is two and half hours away from here, I was a little scared because this country is foreign to me and I did not know what that city was like, but on the other hand, we had to see and talk to that man. At 9 o’clock in the morning, I went to the car station. It was very crowded and dirty place. We went by a car with other passengers because the rent was cheaper. The car left at 10 o’clock. At first it was not a good place ‚full of dust and trucks. After half an hour, the place I saw was incredible, the view was very beautiful full of greenery and tall trees, all the way I was seeing them.

We arrived at 12:30. I came across a crowded and dirty place again, it was like a village. We took a taxi and went to the hospital. I was stressed about what the meeting would be like. Can I understand the man’s words and answer him in English? I took a deep breath and entered the doctor’s room. It started great. I was able to speak much better than I thought, and the doctor liked me talking. We talked about different things. About why we came to [redacted], how many people my family has, degrees, Hasti’s school, Afghan food and so on. Finally he said you should come and live here, he said we will find a house for you and will send photos for us to see.

I did not tell him the main reason of our coming here in [redacted], I just said we came here because of insecurity and the Taliban. At that moment I did not know to tell him the truth or not.

He said, “I want you to start from the beginning of May.”

I do not know what to do. We have not yet received our visa. Traveling this way is really hard,

We have to wait a little bit more.

April 15, 2022

We applied for visa three months ago, but our visa has not arrived yet. I do not know why it takes so long.

We have been waiting for several months. Waiting for my mother’s passport, waiting for a good home in [redacted], waiting for a visa, waiting for job in office, and finally waiting to go to Canada.

It’s really hard to wait.

March 9,2022

I didn’t see snow this year except one day in Kabul. In [redacted] the weather is like spring.

There is no news here. We have not yet received any contact from the UN.

During the day we read English together for a few hours to strengthen our language. In the morning we go to the park for a walk for half an hour.

Our house is much better than the previous house. It has two rooms, bright and sunny. We have not seen the insects yet, it is not clear whether they will be found in the summer or not. We are comfortable right now.

Our neighbors are very good and kind people. They are a couple and have a 15-year-old boy. One of their daughters is getting married and sometimes she comes here to her mother’s house. I have become friend with her. Her mother does not speak much English, but she can speak little by little, she is kind, and sometimes she brings us food.

The park is a good and quiet place. It is green and has great weather. We do not feel fear and insecurity when we walk there because everyone is busy with themselves.

My uncles - October 10, 2021

We are as close to our aunties as we are to our uncles. I have two uncles. One of them lives in Herat. We lived with him when we were children. In the past, when my mother left my father’s house and came to my grandfather’s house, my uncle and his family were also at my grandfather’s house. Of course, the floors were separate. We shared one floor with my grandparents, and on the other floor, my uncle was with his family. Ever since I can remember, we grew up in the same house.

My uncle is a kind man, but he loved his family more than us and did not pay much attention to us. Even though he knew we did not have a father above ourselves, he still did not love us very much. The only people who are important to him are his family.

My mother does not have fond memories of him either, because he was the one who married my mother to my father. He no longer lives with us because he remarried and now and has another house with his family. Sometimes he comes to our house and gets news about our grandmother and us. In general, I can say that he is a carefree man.

My other uncle lives in Russia. He had gone there many years ago to study, he did not return - he got married there. His wife is Russian. He is completely different from this uncle who is here. He is a very kind and compassionate man. He always talks to us and even knows about our birthdays.

I like both of them anyway.

We do not live, we are just alive - October 8, 2021

I can say that we do not live, we are just alive. I’m always at home, I do not go out, I have nowhere to go. There was no place for women to have fun here, but with the arrival of the Taliban, they could not leave the house at all.

My husband sometimes goes out with his friends, and sometimes he plays soccer. In any case, he is a man and he can leave the house without any problems.

I am very homesick. I miss the days when I went to university. I miss my friends. When we were not studying, we would go to the university campus - it was a very green and pleasant place - and we would take pictures together or have something to eat. Everything was very good.

I miss everything.

Sometimes I say to myself that I wish all this was a dream - that I will wake up and see that everything is the same as before. But it is a pity that this is a bitter truth.

I think having friends in life is very important. They slowly become like our family after a while. I was friends with my classmates from the first grade when I began school. The name of one is Baran, the same name as mine. We have been friends since the beginning of school. We became very close during school. After finishing school, we both continued in the same field at the same university. We have known each other for almost thirteen years now.

Farahnaz and Shamsia are also my friends. Farahnaz was a classmate of mine at school. In addition, she is a close relative of mine. Shamsia is also my relative. We were not in the same class at school, but outside of school we sometimes went to each other’s houses and played together.

When I went to university, I also made friends there. Ajmal became my best friend - she was a very good and calm girl. We were in the same class for three years and we sat together. She was forced to leave the university in the third year and went to Iran with her family.

Maaran is another friend. We met at university, we were not very close at first, but later when we went to an English course together, we became more connected. Now we are best friends.

I have many other friends. I met everyone either in class or at school or at university. I could meet them all when I went to university and I could get out of the house. But not now because girls are not allowed to go to their friends’ homes here. Now I can only meet with Baran, Farahnaz and Shamsia. We go to each other’s houses because we are relatives and we have known each other for a long time.

I miss my other friends that I can not see. I do not know when I can meet them again. Currently, we only communicate via mobile. They are all at home like me.

Our fate is unknown. I do not know if we can continue our studies or not.

Honestly, there is no hope.

October 4, 2021

We are still at home. We were supposed to go to [redacted], but since it is also under the control of the Taliban, I am afraid that my father will find us there as well. We are in much danger here and we can not stay here any longer.

October 2, 2021

The situation we are going through right now is really difficult. We were a family that always stood together in any situation. First, Sara separated from us, now Noor. Distance is really hard, but in any case, from a distance, we comfort and support each other as well.

October 1, 2021

No one has heard of Noor’s leaving yet, only my aunties know, and they do not tell anyone. But in a few days, I am sure all this news will be heard.

We wanted to go after Noor left, but suddenly my grandmother became very ill. No one can take good care of her like my mother. We are waiting for her to get better in a day or two.

We still did not have enough money to travel. My mother sold some of the furniture and so did we. We will probably leave here in three days and I hope everything will be hidden until then.

September 30, 2021

Today is the fourth day that Noor is gone. First, she went to Tehran and from there she flew to Moscow. She arrived this morning. We are very happy for her to leave. It was not good for her here - she could not study and build her future. In Moscow, she can start all over again.

On the other hand, we are all very worried. My father will be informed of Noor’s departure tomorrow or in the very near future. My mother, my aunties and all of us are very stressed. We may have to go to Kabul next week.

Our lives are in danger here.

My mother has not slept at all for two nights, she grieves day and night. I do not know what to do if we go to Kabul, but we have to. If we go somewhere, I can not take anything but a few clothes, because it is difficult to transfer.

Pray for us. I wish we could get out of here sooner.

University - September 23, 2021

It is clear that the desire of every human being is to achieve success and happiness. My sisters and I also wished we could finish our studies with high grades, get a job later, and live what we love.

I personally like to be an independent woman, to work for myself, and not be dependent on anyone else.

After graduating from university, I would have started working in a suitable place. But unfortunately, with the arrival of the Taliban, I could not continue my studies then move on to working as the next step.

Our society is a patriarchal society. Here men have many advantages over women. In my society, a woman can not leave the house alone because she will be harassed by men. It was the same before the arrival of the Taliban. We and other women have to stay home all the time - there is not even a suitable place for us to have fun.

Now, with the takeover of the Taliban, it has become increasingly clear that our society gives more privileges to men. This is very obvious, as it has been more than a week since the boys’ school started, but there is no news about girls’ education.

In the previous system, despite the fact that conditions were not very favorable for girls and we could not go out of the house whenever we wanted to go and study, we were still able to go to classes and study and to be accepted to the university. This was not easy. In other countries, girls can get together and study together and solve their problems together. My sisters and I needed this kind of group, but we couldn’t go to our friends’ houses or meet outside to study.

Conditions have always been difficult for us. But we never gave up.

We studied alone and solved our own problems until we were accepted to university. Not everything was easy in the university, either - we had to move forward with our own strength and power. My peers and I were satisfied with the situation, as difficult as it was…at least we could have finished our studies and been thinking about a bright future. But now the situation has changed and nothing is the same as before.

My Husband’s Family - September 21, 2021

My husband’s sister is named Fateme [name changed]. In addition to being my sister-in-law and cousin, she is also a good friend to me. We have had a good relationship since childhood. She is a good and kind girl. She is married and has a son named Sohail [name changed]. Her husband had worked with the Americans for several years and worked in one of the offices before the Taliban took over. His life was in danger after the arrival of the Taliban because he had relations with the Americans.

Because he worked with the Americans and went to the United States for a few months for a project, he was emailed by the US government that he could go there with his family. Everything was ready but the flights were stopped. He is currently hiding in one of his relatives’ houses and fears he will be killed if the Taliban arrest him.

Fateme and her son are at their mother’s house. They are waiting for the flight to leave. These days she looks broken and upset. She is worried about her husband and is afraid of what will happen if someone finds out about her husband. My auntie is also very worried. But we have no choice but to wait.

I hope we will all be saved soon.

My Husband - September 19, 2021

My husband is currently in a difficult situation. He is unemployed and spends all day at home. He was a man who did not like to be at home at all but liked to go to work and work.

Now he only goes to football (soccer) two or three days of the week.

He is worried about our future. He hopes we can get out of here soon to build a better future for ourselves.

On the other hand, he is worried about his family, his father, mother, and sister. But his family fully understands us and wants us to live in a safe place.

My husband is a kind and generous man. ☺️ He always likes to help others if he can. He always tries to be a good boy for her parents and a good husband for me. 💕

No One Knows How I Feel - September 16, 2021

As you know all human beings have problems in their lives or feel afraid of something. This is a normal thing; life is not without problems. Everyone has to fight for something. We have to fight for a happy life.

Like everyone else, I sometimes feel sad, frustrated, or scared. When I’m very upset, I like to be alone and not talk to anyone. I do not have the patience to talk or do anything. Most of the time I cry, I feel comfortable crying and I feel empty. Or I like to listen to quiet songs.

Woman Cry
Sketch by Elizabeth Benson Thayer
Most of the time when I’m sad and crying, no one knows how I feel.

After that, when I meet someone, they see me with a smiling face, I think this is my strength. ☺️

My Mother - September 14, 2021

The strongest woman I have ever met in my life is my mother. She has faced many problems in life and has overcome each of them. Imagine a woman with four children coming back to her father’s house and taking responsibility for raising them alone. This is certainly a problematic way. But my mother did it in the best way. She raised her daughters, went to work, took care of the house, and continued to take good care of her ailing parents. I am really proud to have such a mother and I ask God to make her always happy and healthy. In these few weeks, she is very worried about Noor and still about my father’s reaction. But I’m sure this problem will end too. We believe in our mother and pray for her. 💐💕

My Light - September 14, 2021

Yes, (pregnancy) is a strange feeling. Sense of happiness. 🥰
I went to the doctor this morning and she said everything is fine and there is nothing to worry about. Sometimes I feel very good that a little man is going to be added to us. I imagine how pleasant his laughter is. But sometimes I feel afraid that I will not be able to provide him with a good life or that he will not be able to grow up in a safe environment. But I hope that one day everything will be fine, we will get rid of these problems and we can live happily. It has always been said that after a dark night is a bright day, I believe in this. 🌱🌸🌻

My City Is Not The Same - September 10, 2021

I went out to the store with my husband today. The whole city was Talib, with long clothes and rough faces. I was wearing a long coat, one of them looked at me with a strange look, I did not pay attention. The city is very different from the past; it is empty, people do not go out much. There is silence everywhere. Sometimes I feel scared.

My city is no longer the same. All our neighbors are trying to sell their homes’ equipment, so they can get out of here. No one wants to be under Taliban rule.

My husband and I are always worried about ourselves and our family. We are constantly talking about how to get out of here. We are in great danger. My husband has been a court clerk. I do not know what will happen if the Taliban are informed. You know my mother’s case well, too. Hasti told you about my father. I have been at my mother’s house since the day Noor left because they were alone. I returned to my house today because my husband’s sister will go to Kabul tomorrow. I’m here but worried about my mother and Hasti. They are alone tonight. My mother was not very well, she was very worried about Noor. Maybe they will have to go to Kabul soon because of my father, nothing is known yet.

PLZ don’t forget us in your prayers. 🙏🏻🌺

On Aunties and Grandparents - September 8, 2021

I have four aunties. My older aunt lives outside of Afghanistan. Every few years she and her family came to visit. I am always happy to hear news of them and I was looking forward to seeing them. I am close to her daughters. They are like my sisters. But now, with the arrival of the Taliban, I do not know when they can come to us, maybe they will never come here again because they are very afraid of the Taliban (and they are right). One of my aunties (the second) is also my mother-in-law. We live in a house with them. She is a very kind woman, she loves me. My other two aunties are here too. I like my little aunt the most. She is a very kind and compassionate woman. She shares with us in sorrow and joy. Auntie is to me like Mother, compassionate and kind. I’m happy to have four very kind aunties and I love them all very much.

I have lived with my grandparents since I can remember. My grandfather was a wonderful man. I liked him very much. I was separated from my father as a child. And I did not see my father’s love. But my grandfather gave me that love. He was a very kind man. When I was little, he would tell me stories or draw on my booklet. In the last years of his life he was very sick and old. He was short of breath and was coughing constantly. I was very upset to see him sick and I prayed that he would get well soon. He was an angel, my compassionate angel.

My grandmother is a great woman. Strong, compassionate, and selfless. She has taken care of me and my sisters since childhood. She took care of us when my mother went to university. She has worked very hard for all of us. I like her stories very much. She has been telling me stories of ancient times when she was a young girl. She is uneducated and illiterate. She was married as a child and became a mother at a young age. She was constantly busy with having children and hospitality. Now she is so weak she can’t even stand on her own. She is constantly sick. My mother takes good care of her. My sisters and I help her to walk. I’m sad to see her in this situation. I hope she does not get worse.

I am proud of my grandmother, my mother, and my aunties. Each of them faced many difficulties in life, they never failed and did not give up. 💕

September 7, 2021

I have received some questions about whether I remember when my mother was pregnant with my sisters, how close I am to my sisters and what memories I have. Below is what I said about them.

As you know, we are four sisters. My older sister is called Sara, she is five years older than me. I am the second sister. After me, is Noor, who is two years younger than me. And our littlest sister is Hasti. I’m eight years older than her. I was young when my mother was pregnant with Noor and I do not remember anything from that time. I only remember my mother being pregnant with Hasti. I have very happy memories from that time. I was happy when I heard that a little one was going to be added and that our family was going to get bigger. We all wanted my mother’s baby to be a ‘boy’ because we did not have a brother. But when we found out she was a girl, we were not upset at all. We knew God wanted it that way.

During the last months, when my mother’s belly was enlarged, I stared at it every moment and waited for my sister to be born. I do have one interesting memory from that time that I want to share with you.

One day, some guests came to visit and the children were playing with me and Noor. I wanted to hug one of the guest’s babies who had just been born, but his brother, who was my age, would not let me. I cried and went to my mother and told her everything. She put her hand on her belly and kindly said, “Do not be upset, you will hug your sister soon.” I was very happy and did not cry anymore.

When it was time for Hasti to be born, my mother was taken to the hospital, and Noor and I did not go. My older sister Sara cooked food for my mother and those in the hospital. Then my father took us all to the hospital to see my mother. When we got there, my grandmother was hugging Hasti and I asked her to give me Hasti. I felt very good when I hugged her for the first time. She was very small and sweet. I did not want to return home from the hospital that night.

I am very close to my sisters and I love them all from the bottom of my heart.

Our older sister Sara has been like a mother to us. She noticed us all at all times. From our clothes, to our food, to our lessons.

Most of all, I am close to Noor. We spent our childhood together. We would play and were together wherever we went. Even our clothes were the same color. We had a lot of fun together. Now that we are older, we are as close as ever. We share in each other’s sorrow and joy. And in every situation, we want to support each other. She is my best friend.

I saw Hasti’s childhood with my own eyes and watched while she grew up. I saw it when she first walked or spoke. She is the beauty of our home. We all love her very much.
I pray to God that my mother, my sisters and I will always be happy. I wish them all the best.

September 1, 2021

My name is Baran. I am 22 years old and I am a housewife. I am a student of English Language and Literature at a university in Afghanistan. (I do not know at this time whether I can continue my education or not, as the fate of women under Taliban rule is still unknown).

My husband is an employee of the court in our province. Our life was good before the Taliban came. I could go to university and study and my husband worked. I could go out in my spare time and have fun with my friends.

Unfortunately, a month or more has passed since the arrival of the Taliban. Everything changed with their arrival. All my dreams were shattered and I do not know what will happen to me, my husband, and my child. (I am pregnant and I will hug my son in a few months). I’m very worried about my baby’s future, I do not know if we can provide a good life for him here.

Many years ago, I asked my mother about the Taliban. I wanted to know what happened to my mother and other relatives twenty years ago when the Taliban came to our country. My mother was upset to hear the name, Taliban, but has been telling me stories since then. She could not study under the Taliban and had to stay at home. My mother was upset that she had not been able to study for years and achieve her dream of being a nurse. I was very upset to hear my mother say this and hated the Taliban.

When I was in the second year of university, our professor gave us a novel to read, The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini. It is an Afghan novel and very interesting. One part told about the Taliban and their atrocities. Tears flowed from my eyes as I read each line. They were vile and savage human beings. They beat women and had no mercy on children. When it was over, I said to myself, “thank God the Taliban are gone and we will not experience that bitter life.” But it was not long before the Taliban recaptured our country. I feel very bad and life has become meaningless for me. I do not want to spend the rest of my life under the domination of such cruel people. I pray every day that this nightmare will pass and I can be happy again.

God, please hear my voice and save us all.

Edited by Nicole Taylor

Illustration by Sarah Jane Dayley

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